Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Report Cards, Part 2
This was the second marking period of the semester, and required a little extra thought. The second marking period is the only one that really counts, because it determines whether or not the kids get programmed for the next level. Conceivably if they failed the second marking period then got their act together and passed the third someone could figure things out and get the their new class changed to the correct level, but around Shitty the chances of that not actually happening are pretty close to certain.

There are some tough calls, mostly involving kids who have failed a couple of times already. Stacey for instance is 18. She wears thick black eye-liner – in a Tammy Faye Gothic style - and revealing tank-tops out of which her rather large belly spills and squirts. This is her fourth straight semester in Level 2 and second in my class. She often mispells her own name and misses at least two days a week. When she does attend class she talks a lot but always makes a point to grab my hand, bat her goopy eyelashes at me and say with great earnestness, “Meester, I need pass you class. You see, I working. I working everyday.”

She doesn’t deserve to pass. She has neither done the work nor learned what she needs to learn. I passed her anyway. It’s not as if it’s possible for her to learn any less in Level 3 than she’s learning now. Maybe getting a new textbook will inspire her to actually open it instead of just leaning on it as she gabs away.

Then there’s Ivan. Ivan is good-looking, light-skinned and tall with long black braided ropes of ahir hanging past his shoulders, and highly intelligent. He likes to rib me about football.

“Yo Mista, you saw my Eagles yesterday? They goin’ Superbowl. Your Falcons suck. Vick’s the truth, yo, but the offense sucks. Falcons aren’t shit without Crumpler.”

His analysis is astute. Ivan does very good work when he comes to class, and is more than ready for Level 4, in fact, he could probably handle monolingual classes. Ivan, however, is certified gangster, often found prowling the corner by the train-station, up to who knows what trouble. He cuts class a couple of times a week, and actually has the balls to do things like come say hi to me before he does so, or to slap me five on the street after school immediately after.

Will failing Ivan further his burgeoning criminalization, driving him to drop out completely? Will passing him be considered unfair by other kids who do show up and do the work? Will it send the wrong message to Ivan?

Life’s not fair, and that wrong message can’t be worse than the ones he’s getting elsewhere. Ivan passes too.

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